One of the most original and ambitious shows to come around in recent years, AMC’s Kevin Can F**k Himself is fueled by a great lead performance by Annie Murphy. The show follows Allison McRoberts (Murphy), a sitcom housewife in the Boston area who one day decides that she wants to kill her husband. The story is partially told through a traditional multi-camera sitcom style complete with bright lighting and a laugh track, and partially through a single-camera drama style, which is much darker both visually and in tone. The disparate styles can sometimes be jarring as the show switches between the two, but it mostly works because of Murphy’s commitment to the character and the story.
The sitcom style is used whenever Allison’s husband Kevin (Eric Petersen) is in the room, but when she is alone, it switches to the darker, dramatic style as a way to mirror her interiority and to show her frustration with her life with Kevin. The show’s creator, Valerie Armstrong, has said that the sitcom style is used as a kind of social commentary for the lives of Kevin and others like him–privileged white males. Kevin lives in his own little world with a laugh track, where there are no consequences and everything works out neatly and episodically. But Allison’s world is much different, and one day she decides that she doesn’t want to live in that world with Kevin anymore, the world centered around him and his shenanigans.
She befriends her neighbor Patty (Mary Hollis Inboden) and goes to extreme lengths to plot Kevin’s death. In the course of her plotting, she encounters an ex-boyfriend, Sam (Raymond Lee), and several shady characters around the neighborhood that throw wrenches in her plans. Over the course of the first season, Allison is exhilarated by her newfound independence and learns a lot about herself, but often finds herself in situations where she is in over her head. As the story progresses, the two worlds frequently collide, and it becomes clear that Allison’s real world and Kevin’s sitcom fantasy cannot continue to coexist.
It will be interesting to see how future seasons handle the task of juggling these different styles, or if they do away with the sitcom world in favor of showing more of the gritty reality of Allison’s world, which is where the more compelling pieces of the story come from. Kevin’s sitcom ‘goof-arounds’ can sometimes detract from the true drama of the show, but for the most part the show finds a good balance, and its experimental first season proves to be a success.